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Council Speaker Vacca?

Bronx Times

Oh my!

Call us Bronx-centric, but we’d say Jimmy Vacca made some heavy brownie points at the Bronx forum for City Council Speaker.

Based on Jimmy’s responses to questions and his familiar “That’s not acceptable!” mantra, Vacca notched up his creds as a viable candidate after lagging behind on the political blogger circuit.

Jimmy has always been our gold standard for a hardworking local elected, so we’re not that surprised he impressed folks from outside his east Bronx district.

While the real vote will come down to the 51 council members, establishing public creds as a viable leader is all part of the process.

The forum, Monday night, Nov. 12 at the New Settlement Community Center in Mt. Eden, also brought out Councilmember/Speaker wannabes Annabel Palma of Soundview, Mark Weprin of Queens, E. Harlem/South Bronx Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick of Manhattan and Harlem’s Inez Dickens.

While the others are pushing for a tsunami of reforms that would weaken the Speaker’s power - and increase individual members’ independence and clout, Vacca and Palma warned it could weaken the Speaker’s power in negotiations with the mayor – and the council grilling some city agencies who think they are above answering to the council.

“When we address rules reforms, we have to look at making it more democratic and definitely more transparent, but we also have to assure that we remain strong, a united voice that’s prepared to fight,” Vacca told a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people in the packed community room at the center.

He drew loud applause responding to an audience question about potential reforms to curb corruption, saying “If you’re a crook, you’re a crook!”

GOP VICTORY

Giving credit where its due, the Bronx Republican Party showed it’s strength in the mayoral election with a majority vote for Joe Lhota, even if the winning territory was only a small slice of the borough.

Lhota swamped ultimate winner Bill de Blasio in the GOP’s east Bronx stronghold running from Country Club south through Throggs Neck and including Waterbury-Lasalle, as well as Morris Park, a chunk of Pelham Gardens as well as a solid vote of heavily Irish-Amerian Woodlawn.

Borowide, de Blasio pulled 86.1%, or 113,644 borough votes, while Lhota garnered 11.1%, or 14,580.

Ex-Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., who (Gasp!) dropped his Democratic registration to run on the Independence Party line, squeaked out 1.9% or 2,452 votes in his home borough.

HOT WHEELS

Former Bronx Times Reporter “Bronx Wheels” columnist Eddie Lopez tells us he wound up playing an extra, with one of his own classic set of wheels – a cherry ‘87 Honda Civic – used in a recent Martin Scorcese shoot, “The Wannabe,” with some scenes shot inside the Bronx County Courthouse and on 158th Street and Walton Avenue, where lead actor Vincent Piazza ( Lucky Luciano, Broadwalk Empire) sits on the hood of Eddie’s car.

Eddie said he got a laugh from Piazza after he asked him if he could sell his car on eBay for ten thousand, now that the actor’s butt had been sitting on its hood.

SINGLED OUT

In case you missed the story in the Post (Hey, Daily News, where were you?), Morisania Assemblyman Eric Stevenson wants his federal bribery trial moved out of the metro area because U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told Gov. Cuomo’s Commission to Investigate Public Corruption that he wants to seize future state pensions of both Stevenson and Senator Malcolm Smith, who faces a separate bribery trial to which former Bronx Republican Party leader Jay Saviono just pleaded guilty. Stevenson claims the revelation could taint the trial jury.

Losing his pension could be just one more worry for Stevenson, whose three indicted co-conspirators recently pleaded guilty in the scheme involving greasing the wheels for two Bronx adult daycare centers.

ALBANY BOUND

Newly elected west Bronx Assemblyman Victor Pichardo heading to Albany on Nov. 25 to be officially sworn in. Pichardo filled the 86th A.D. seat vacated by disgraced Nelson Castro after a squeaker race with former District Leader Hector Ramirez that many complained was filled with irregularities - beyond the city Board of Elections normal incompetence. Hector screwed up filing a lawsuit on time that listed numerous irregularities, so it looks like clear sailing for Pichardo – at least until next year when he’ll have to run for a full term. The former staffer for state Senator Gustavo Rivera will likely again have the backing of the Bronx Democratic machine.

COLLEAGUE

Friends and colleagues of former Newsday and WNYC reporter and Lehman College journalism teacher Elaine Rivera, found dead in her Bronx apartment last month at the age of 54, will gather at 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at the campus’ Lovinger Theater for a memorial service and fundraiser for the Elaine Rivera Scholarship in Journalism at Lehman.

Former newspaper colleague Bob Liff told us a $25,000 fund produces enough income, along with other student aid “for a full ride for a budding journalist.”

CHANGES

Vacca’s voice. Mike Pantelidis on board as new spokesman for Councilman Jimmy Vacca, replacing Vito Signorile who moved on as spokesman for the Rent Stabilization Assocation. Mike last worked for term-limited Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

Departed. Longtime Lincoln Hospital co-spokeswoman Nydia Negron retiring, with veteran spokeswoman Renelda Walker holding the fort.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

Nov. 26 - Tommy Messina, community rep for Congressman Joe Crowley.

Nov. 29 - Actress Cathy Moriarity (“Raging Bull”).

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